Exporting is easier than you think. Here’s how to get started
“You rang, M’lady?” says the grey suited driver with extraordinary eyebrows. “Yes, Parker,” replies Lady Penelope, “Get out the Rolls-Royce.” This famous exchange featured in the 1966 classic “Thunderbirds Are GO”, and at the time it didn’t get much more British than being a socialite driven around in a Rolls-Royce by an obedient chauffeur.
Today, the Rolls brand still has its veneer of staunch Britishness, but it’s less likely to be us Brits being driven around in the back. The classic vehicle, first founded in Manchester 110 years ago, is a star of the export market.
Now owned by BMW but still manufactured in Goodwood, Chichester, a whopping 90% of Rolls-Royce sales are from outside these shores – with the US, China and the Middle East its biggest buyers. And earlier this year, the car manufacturer announced it was expecting 2014 to be its fifth year of record sales.
Rolls-Royce has always had a strong stamp of British prestige (the Queen has two Phantom Vis. one of which was her number one state car for 25 years), but it also has that seal of British manufacturing.
“The UK has always prided itself with a strong heritage of engineering and manufacturing,” says George Singer, founder of his eponymous chandelier business, itself an exporter.“The UK is the 11th largest manufacturer in the world – mainly due to our aerospace and automotive producers like Rolls Royce and Triumph.” Singer goes on to cite iconic British inventors and engineers like Robert Hooke and Brunel and “more recently, Trevor Baylis and James Dyson as major contributors to this heritage.
But this huge demand for British-made products doesn’t stop with the luxury end of the market. Clarks – born in the sleepy Somerset town of Street – has become one of the biggest shoe brands in the world and is now so popular in China that its outlet store, Clarks Village, has become a popular stop for Chinese bus tours.
“This is not just about luxury brands such as Burberry and Jaguar, but a much bigger market for mid-range goods,” says Arnold Ma, CEO of Qumin, an Anglo-Chinese marketing agency based in London.
And little touches can make all the difference when it comes to attracting fans of ‘Brand Britain’ explains Ma. “For example, Clarks Shoes trades as ‘Clarks England’ in China and has benefitted enormously as a result.”
Many of the afore-mentioned brands have rich histories spanning generations – but export success doesn’t rely on a business being centuries old. New British brands can nail it too. Brompton Bicycles was formed in 1976 and has already developed a cult following abroad. Meanwhile, Tyrrells Crisps, for whom exports make up 30% of sales, was only founded in 2011.
How to make your Made In Britain brand
Want to be the next British export superstar? First, you’ve got to be clear about what kind of Britishness you want to convey – and you may need a brand agency to help you do this. “We’ve worked with the iconic British brand, Aston Martin, for many years – helping it convey its Britishness so it can build its export market,” says Paul Silvester, MD of Identity Design. “We’ve helped them move on from some of the more outdated elements of Brand Britain, whilst emphasising the craft and skill involved in their manufacturing process.”
So make sure you successfully convey your chosen message to your target market, it might be as simple as adding some words to your website or incorporating an element of Britishness into your brand.
Tyrrells Crisps are the modern-day masters at this. The multi-million pound business uses black and white photography alongside eccentric British humour on all of its crisp packets and across all of its marketing to enrich and tell the Tyrrells ‘story’. And punch Tyrrells into a search engine and you’ll find Tyrrells English Crisps rather than just ‘Tyrrells Crisps’ – proving that a complete rebrand isn’t always necessary to hammer home the British message.
How to become Made In London
“First of all, my logo says ‘George Singer, Bespoke Chandeliers, London’,” explains Singer. “This logo appears on every page of my website and is present on all my presentation material and drawings. I always stress the fact that all my products are UK-made and how much I pride myself in using British manufacturing.
“All of my marketing videos feature the processes that are undertaken during the fabrication of my chandeliers and these are used not only as press material, but to give the client a behind-the-scenes look into the manufacturing process.”
Last month, advances in internet domains made it even easier to mark yourself out as a British brand. The availability of .London as a domain (instead of .com) was celebrated by many brands based in the capital as a way to single their businesses out.
“Meantime Brewing Company now exports to 32 countries,” says Nick Miller, chief exec of Meantime Brewing Company – and a pioneer of .London.
“We believe that a .London web address can act as a signpost for foreign consumers when seeking out London based companies and brands. This is particularly appealing for companies such as ours. Meantime is proud of its London roots and we’re keen to support activities that promote our home city.”
Of course becoming a Brand Britain (or Brand London) export champ doesn’t just centre around branding. If you want to start looking to foreign markets you must understand how they work and there’s plenty of help out there for you. Bodies such as the UKTI and IoE are great places to start researching, while a logistics partner like UPS can guide you with its expertise.
As the world’s largest customs broker, UPS now has the website, TradeAbility, which is dedicated to keeping exporters informed on export regulations that helps keep its clients compliant throughout what can be tricky – and if incorrectly managed very costly – process.
Having a solid understanding of your new market, then, is essential – but so too is keeping abreast of exactly how your goods are progressing once they’ve left the warehouse. Successful exporting relies on you and your team having awareness and control at every step of the process and UPS’ tracking tools can help you keep fully informed once your export journey has begun.
This way, if there are any delays, you can rest assured your new customers will be informed in good time – helping you maintain excellent customer service and uphold the British tradition.
So, what are you waiting for? Fire up your inner Rolls Royce and join the gang.
This article is brought to you in partnership with UPS